You’ve probably heard the word ‘intersectionality’. You’ve maybe heard people call themselves ‘an intersectional feminist’. In a lot of feminist media, culture and conversation, intersectionality has become a buzzword. But what does it actually mean, and how does it relate to gender equality?
To understand more, we spoke to Mpho Elizabeth Mpofu. Mpho is a development practitioner and philanthropist from Zimbabwe. She’s also the founder of Voice of Africa. Here’s what she had to say.
“It’s one of those words that we keep bringing up, but then the question is, is it really happening on the ground?”
An important thing to know about intersectionality is that the legacy of the whole concept is rooted within black feminst movements. It can be traced back to at least 1852, and the idea was explored by women of colour throughout succeeding decades. In 1989, the word intersectionality was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw.
As Crenshaw explains it, intersectionality is a way of looking at the world. It draws our attention to the ways points of difference (such as gender, race, class, sexuality, ability) create overlapping and compounding inequalities. It’s like a lens that allows us to see that the many forms and sources of inequality are interwoven. Intersectionality is something you do, not something you are, and everyone shares the responsibility of taking the theory and using it in practice. If you’d like to learn more, Kimberle Crenshaw has a great podcast – Intersectionality Matters.
Girls’ Globe attended the Women in Dev Conference in March 2020. You can watch highlights from the event or join the conversation online. If you’d like to share your perspective, personal experience or work on intersectionality, you can amplify your voice with Girls’ Globe.